This is generally asked toward Wranglerstar but anyone qualified to answer (eg those who have actually gone in whole-hog) please contribute.
I've read through a number of posts from various folks who have started homesteading only to hit that really, REALLY difficult bit in the journey. I wonder if there are comments about that dark time and what kept you ticking even though you weren't sure you were going to make it? Is there one piece of advice you can give people about how you got through it? Was it your friends or family or maybe just true grit? Curious if there are ways to prepare for that seemingly inevitable experience ahead of time?
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
posted 4 years ago
My mantra is something like this: "I make my choices and live with the consequences, until I decide to make different choices."
For example I don't use cides or fertilizers in my garden. It's merely a choice. I don't have to make the choice over and over again. I made that choice a decade ago, and continue to be happy as anything with it. Sure my vegetables don't look at nice at market, and they don't produce as well. Whatever, I'm not poisoning myself, my family, nor my customers, and my costs and labor to buy and apply cides and fertilizers are exactly zero. At this point, this particular choice has become a way of life. It doesn't even enter my mind to try to do something to kill a bug, or to try to amend my soil.
But in other areas of my life, there is ambiguity... I wonder whether the choice is right or not. I ponder about whether I want to make different choices. The easiest choices for me are the ones that are driven by principles... For example, not poisoning myself is an easy choice to make. It's harder to make choices about who I'm going to give my time to.
We felt like God was leading us to live out in the country even though it was a complete disaster at first. We had no place else to go. it never crossed my mind to give up on it. MrsW and I are both hard workers and didn't want to give up on it. Budget. Get out of debt. Learn skills before you move out. Small bites unless EVERYONE is on board. it's tough.
I guess I'd need to see the definition of "homesteading" to be able to respond appropriately. Does it mean making one's living from farming? Does it mean growing all of one's own food and not buying food from the store?
My husband and I moved from Los Angeles to the Texas Hill Country and have made our living from home, but not by farming. We still buy much of our food at the store, but I 'm growing more and more of it. I've had significant setbacks due to the difficult climate and also some health problems, but I feel like I'm finally learning what to do and how to cope with challenges (little bites, as mentioned above). We now own our house and land free and clear, which is good because our primary source of income has mostly dried up and blown away, leaving us hovering around the poverty level for the past few months.
What has kept us from giving up is having no place else to go, really hating the idea of living in the city again, and how much more difficult and expensive it would be to go somewhere else than to stay and figure this out.
posted 4 years ago
I think that counts as homesteading. , or at least a variant of it if you are a purist.
I think that homesteading is definable but it is also an ideal of sorts. Taking a road less traveled and becoming (more) self sufficient seem to run true to it's core. Often it seems that with that road less traveled you face adversity that most people don't. Those experiences aren't something that you can plan for necessarily but never-the-less it can come down to make or break the deal. I find it helpful to draw on that collective knowledge of what it took others to overcome that adversity.
First there is the actual dictionary definition of a homestead : The dwelling house and its adjoining land where a family resides.
Technically, and pursuant to the modern homestead exemption laws, an artificial estate in land, created to protect the possession and enjoyment of the owner against the claims of creditors by preventing the sale of the property for payment of the owner's debts so long as the land is occupied as a home.
Laws exempting the homestead from liability for debts of the owner are strictly of U.S. origin.
Under the English Common Law, a homestead right, a personal right to the peaceful, beneficial, and uninterrupted use of the home property free from the claims of creditors, did not exist.
Homestead rights exist only through the constitutional and statutory provisions that create them.
Nearly every state has enacted such provisions. The earliest ones were enacted in 1839 in the Republic of Texas.
Then there is the definition of homesteading:
A lifestyle of self-sufficiency. It is characterized by subsistence agriculture, home preservation of foodstuffs, and it may or may not also involve the small scale production of textiles, clothing, and craftwork for household use or sale. Pursued in different ways around the world — and in different historical eras — homesteading is generally differentiated from rural village or commune living by isolation (either socially or physically) of the homestead. Use of the term in the United States dates back to the Homestead Act (1862) and before.
To most people today if you say you are homesteading they get the idea that you are living on your own land, built your own house and raise most of the food you consume, ( this is what the folks in our town think of us and interestingly enough there are lots of people in our area that are doing this).
To me a modern homesteader is a person reaching back to the era of semi or even total self sufficiency, which even then depended on some trading and selling of goods to others.
In our Homestead Journey To quit or fail is not an option. The way one preservers is similar to getting on a ship back in the 1400's, there is no where to go other than forward.
For us, a trip to town is a fairly big deal since to get to town (by motor vehicle) takes around 20 minutes one way.
We still buy some of our food but every year we grow and raise more and will get to the point of only buying "staples" just like they did back in the 1800's westward expansion period.
We are also setting up so that when/ if the USA falls apart we will not be the ones panicking about food or shelter or anything else.
Since we don't have horses (yet) we are still very dependent on fossil fuels, but eventually we will get to making bio diesel fuel and have a vehicle that can use it.
We work our way through any difficulties and problems since we don't have a choice. The work will get done, it may take us longer because of a setback, but we will plug along at it until it is finished.
This is very much like the frontier days, those people worked through the problems and issues that came at them, their only choice other than doing that was to give up and go back east.
Some of them would starve to death, some would be killed and some would be captured.
The last case usually meant that they would survive well and learn the native ways, becoming part of the people. Unless it was Comancheros that captured you, in which case you probably were headed to Mexico and who knows what end.
If you start on the journey (what ever type of journey) then you should have the resolve to complete the journey, if you don't, then you probably should have not taken the first step out of the comfort zone you were in before.
It is not necessary for homesteading to be as physically demanding now, as it used to be. We have access to motor vehicles, chainsaws, and many other modern conveniences.
Especially for those living off grid, the situation has improved greatly in the last two decades.
I think the two biggest differences between modern and past homesteaders are that most people or most families do it alone now, and the land must be purchased.
When my ancestors arrived in Canada from England and Ireland, they came in large family groups that worked together. Each family received 200 acres of good quality farmland. Several of them were surveyors for the crown. They chose good bottom land in Southern Ontario.
Most of these early settlers were vastly wealthier than those who stayed behind, within a few years.
Today, the biggest single concern for most, is how to pay for the land.
Many people who fail at or quit homesteading, or homeownership in general, do not actually choose to quit.
Financial ineptitude, or whatever you want to call it, often means that the bank makes the final choice.
Choosing to continue, means choosing to not lose years of work and investment. Those of us who are accustomed to succeeding in business, sports, education etc. continue to work toward goals, despite obstacles. I suspect that for many, to quit is to admit defeat. We don't like to do that.
A young man foolishly used me as a reference after being fired. I told the other employer, "He works fine when everything goes well, but quickly accepts utter defeat, in the face of minor obstacles". I don't know if he got the job.